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November 12, 2015

With the Internet, it is increasingly easy to obtain goods from overseas to sell in SIngapore. If you operate a business trading in goods, for instance handbags and fashion accessories, it is important to be sure of the origin of the goods that you are selling. The case of Louis Vuitton Malletier v Cuffz Pte Ltd illustrates the danger of selling counterfeit goods. 
- Koh C-u Pinn, Arielle Law Corporation

$35,000 damages for selling imitation goods: Louis Vuitton Malletier v Cuffz (Singapore) Pte Ltd


Cuffz (Singapore) Pte Ltd operated a retail shop in Raffles City Shopping Centre selling fashion accessories. Unfortunately, it also sold wallets that resembled those in Louis Vuitton's Epi range. Wallets in the Epi range are identified by a distinct textured surface that produces a two-tone effect. For this particular pattern of textured surfaces, Louis Vuitton Malletier (LVM) had registered a trademark.
 
How Cuffz was "cuffed"

In a typical style of how such trademark infringment cases are conducted, a private investigator went to Cuffz, and sucessfully purchased an infringing wallet. That led to a raid by the Criminal Investigation Department, which yielded a further two infringing wallets.  

How the $35,000 was arrived at

Typically, an infringer will have to compensate for the loss brought about the infringement. In this case, the loss was hard to quantify, since only three infringing wallets had been seized. Alternatively, the statutes provide for a maximum of $100,000 in statutory damages that can be awarded when it is difficult to prove actual loss.  

LVM argued for a higher amount by saying that Cuffz had been "evasive and uncooperative" during the proceedings, and that the defendant could have sold way more wallets than the number seized. The court also took into account that Cuffz had even added its own logo to the infringing item in order to gain prestige from association with the Louis Vuitton's Epi range. 

Louis Vuitton's Epi range has been hotly-counterfeited, with numerous instances of enforcement action in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The court decided on an amount that would serve as a deterrance given the many instances of infringement. 

This case goes to show the importance of knowing where your goods come from. Trademark enforcement action is real. 
Koh C-u Pinn Picture
Koh C-u Pinn is a director at Arielle Law Corporation, a boutique law firm that provides individualized services tailored specifically to your needs. 

Simply email us at ask@ariellelaw.com, or give us a call at (+65) 6818-9785 to chat with us about your needs. We are always happy to discuss what works best for you, whether over email, the phone, or a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
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